Press Release

UC Berkeley Prof. Shyh Wang, a leading researcher in the field of semiconductor lasers, has died

| 19 March 1992

Shyh Wang, emeritus professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University of California at Berkeley and one of the nation's top researchers in the field of semiconductor lasers, died suddenly Wednesday (2/18/92) at Alta Bates-Herrick Hospital in Berkeley. He was 66, and had been undergoing chemotherapy for liver cancer.

Wang worked for some 20 years on semiconductor lasers -- small, lightweight and efficient lasers used today in compact disc players and more widely in optical communications.  Many of his former students today hold leading positions in the semiconductor laser industry.

He retired last year after 33 years at U.C.-Berkeley, but continued to conduct research in his laboratory and to direct 10 graduate students.

Wang was born in Wuhsi, Kiangu Province, China in 1925 (d.o.b. 6/15/25) and obtained his undergraduate education at Chiotung University in Shanghai before coming to the United States in 1947.  He received his M.A. (1949) and Ph.D. (1951) in applied physics from Harvard University, and spent two years there as a postdoctoral fellow.

In 1953 he took a job at Sylvania Electric Products (now part of GTE) as an engineering specialist, where he worked on semiconductor devices, including the transistor.  He continued his work in this area after joining the Berkeley faculty in 1958.

After the discovery of the laser in the early 1960s he switched to the fields of quantum and optical electronics, and for the past two decades has concentrated on semiconductor lasers and guided-wave optics.

Throughout his career he has continued to inject new ideas and new approaches into the semiconductor laser field.  He was one of the first people to work on distributed feedback lasers, and contributed to the development of injection lasers and interference lasers.  In the past few years he expanded his research activities into semiconductor laser arrays.

Wang was the author of more than 170 technical articles and seven patents, and wrote two definitive graduate-level texts on solid state electronics.  At his death he was on the editorial board of the Journal of Optical Communication.

Wang was invited as a visiting scientist to many research centers around the world, most recently to the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in Leningrad in 1985 and the University of Tokyo in 1984.  He was awarded an honorary professorship at Jilin University of China in 1985.  He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1965.

He was a fellow both of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Optical Society of America.

Wang, who became a naturalized citizen in 1962, is survived by his wife Dila Wang of El Cerrito, as well as two sisters and four brothers in China.

A funeral has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, at 5:00 pm at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito.